FFCCCCII president Henry Lim Bon Liong(left) and MAP national issues committee chair Riza Mantaring (right).
By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — Even as the government prioritized front-liners in its national vaccination program, the country’s labor force face a quandary in ensuring their safety and health amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as major business organizations have shown contrasting opinions about providing free vaccines to their employees.
This developed as the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) issued a mandate requiring employers to shoulder the cost of Covid-19 vaccines that would be administered to their workers.
In an unofficial message, Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) president Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong said that although they would want to heed the guidelines set by the labor department regarding vaccination of their labor force, mandating employers to shoulder the cost of vaccination would exert some pressure that could be the cause of adverse effects on the financial aspect of some businesses.
“We are encouraging all our employees to be vaccinated, of course, we shoulder the cost of the vaccines,” Mr. Liong quickly added.
The FFCCCII, with over 170 Filipino Chinese chambers and trade organizations nationwide even pledged to purchase 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines for economic front-liners to safeguard the entrepreneurs and its workers who are at the forefront of Philippine socio-economic development.
DOLE’s Guidelines on the Covid-19 Vaccination Program in the Workplaces also noted that “any employee who refuses or fails to be vaccinated shall not be discriminated against or terminated from employment,” pursuant to Article 5 of the Labor Code of the Philippines and Republic Act 1105 and Republic Act 11525.
But the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) national issues committee chairperson Riza Mantaring has aired personal concerns over the DOLE advisory because this may affect those struggling companies who cannot afford the price of the full vaccines.
“While employers are generally bearing the costs of vaccinating their employees, making it mandatory removes the opportunity for companies who cannot afford to bear the full cost to provide access to vaccinations to their employees,” Mantaring pointed out.
The MAP official also expressed that the government should somehow recompense the amount of vaccine cost that companies would shell-out, in the form of tax reprieves.
“Where companies do pay for vaccination, the government should consider reimbursing the full costs or at the very least giving tax credits or tax deductions, given the government, has stated it is prepared to shoulder the costs of vaccinating all citizens,” she disclosed in a media interview
As an organization, however, MAP has not yet released its official statement regarding the issue, along with other business groups such as the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCII) and the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX).